Travel to an area where Zika is present is the main risk factor for the virus.
It is mainly transmitted through mosquito bites, but it can also be passed on:
To date, there have been no known transmissions of the virus from mother to infant during breast-feeding.
After a person has had the virus, they are protected from it
in the future.
A woman who is pregnant should be particularly careful to avoid mosquito bites if she is living in or traveling to a country where Zika is present. It may be advisable to avoid travel to certain places during pregnancy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issue travel warnings about Zika transmission.
These are mainly the tropical regions of:
Travelers should refer to the CDC website for updates.
Zika virus may be symptomless, or the symptoms can be vague and mild. They last for up to a week.
Initial symptoms include:
Infection with the Zika virus is rarely severe enough to warrant hospitalization, and it is rarer still for an individual to die as a result.
However, complications of Zika can be devastating, especially if a woman contracts the virus while she is pregnant.
It can cause a brain defect known as microcephaly in the unborn child. The brain and head of the newborn will be smaller in size than is usual. Loss of pregnancy, stillbirth, and other congenital disabilities are also more likely.
During the recent outbreak in Brazil, there was a 10-fold increase in newborns with microcephaly after October 2015, compared with previous years.
There have also been reports of people developing Guillain-Barré
syndrome following a Zika virus infection. Guillain-Barré syndrome is a
rare but serious autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous
Your doctor will likely ask about your medical and travel history. Be sure to describe international trips in detail, including the countries you and your sexual partner have visited and the dates, as well as any contact you may have had with mosquitoes.
Talk to your doctor about which tests for Zika virus — or similar diseases such as dengue or chikungunya viruses, which are spread by the same type of mosquitoes — are available in your area.
A pregnant woman with no symptoms of Zika virus infection with a history of recent travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission can be offered testing two to 12 weeks after her return.
Following positive, inconclusive or negative test results, care providers may:
Currently, there is no treatment for Zika.
A person with symptoms should:
The CDC advise against using aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) until a diagnosis of dengue has been ruled out in those at risk due to the risk of hemorrhage.
The CDC also advise that pregnant women who are diagnosed with Zika should be considered for the monitoring of fetal growth and anatomy program every 3 to 4 weeks.
They also recommend seeing a doctor who specializes in pregnancy
management and either infectious disease or maternal-fetal medicine.
There is no vaccine to protect against Zika virus disease.
The CDC recommends all pregnant women avoid traveling to areas where there is an outbreak of Zika virus. If you are trying to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about any upcoming travel plans and the risk of getting infected with Zika virus.
If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to an area where there is an outbreak of Zika virus, the CDC recommends abstaining from sex during pregnancy or using a condom during sexual contact.
If you are living or traveling in tropical areas where Zika virus is known to be, these tips may help reduce your risk of mosquito bites:
When used as directed, insect repellents that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are proven safe and effective for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
Zika virus transmitted through blood transfusion
All blood donations are now screened for Zika virus. To further reduce the risk of transmitting Zika virus through blood transfusion in areas where there are no active Zika virus outbreaks, the Food and Drug Administration recommends not donating blood for four weeks if you: